United States News Digest
Gates: Missile Defense Proven by Satellite Shootdown
Feb. 22 (EIRNS)The successful interception of a dead and falling military satellite, by a modified anti-ballistic missile two days ago, could be used by the U.S.A. as a new capability to threaten other nations' space assets, U.S. analysts and foreign governments have warned. The Pentagon insisted that this was a "public safety" measure, to prevent people on the ground from being contaminated by satellite fuel. Many are skeptical. Former Defense Department assistant secretary Phil Coyle believes rather that the U.S. didn't want any satellite parts to fall into the wrong hands; they wanted to "poke the Chinese" and show them "that we can do it any place in the world, because we're doing it from the ocean," unlike China's land-based ASAT system; and "to show off our missile-defense capabilities," in a way that "is much easier [to do] than hitting an enemy warhead."
In briefings before the shot, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went out of his way to say this was not a test of the missile defense system, or a show of force against other nations. It is a "one-time event," he said. However, following the destruction of the satellite, Defense Secretary Robert Gates categorically stated, referring to the missile defense program, that "the question of whether this capability works has been settled. The question is against what kind of threat.... We just need to keep improving its capability." Whether the system would even work had been asked by those opposing deployment of interceptors in Poland.
Following the intercept, the Chinese urged the U.S. to release data about the test, and the orbital debris. Gates said Washington would "share whatever appropriately we can." Russian Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, a participant in drafting strategic arms treaties, warned of that this may have set the precedent where "the United States could argue that people may have to shoot [down] space-based objects for safety reasons." [See also Russia/CIS Digest.]
Former Prosecutor To Testify for Guantanamo Defendant
Feb. 23 (EIRNS)Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo military commissions, will testify in support of one of the Guantanamo prisoners, Salim Hamdan, who is described as having been Osama bin Laden's driver.
Col. Davis, still an Air Force legal official, resigned last October from the office for military commissions, citing heavy political pressure being applied to prosecutors. Davis has said that the Administration pushed to get the cases against the so-called "high-value detainees" moving before the 2008 elections, so that the next President would be locked into this Administration's policy.
Davis has also described Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes as telling him that there could not be any acquittals in the tribunals. "If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them off? We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions," Haynes said, according to statements Davis made to the Nation, which were published in an article entitled "Gitmo Trials Rigged."
U.S. Lied to Britain About Secret Flights
Feb. 22 (EIRNS)The Bush-Cheney Administration acknowledged yesterday that the CIA had used the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean for two "rendition" flightssecretly transferring prisoners from one secret location to another, without any legal rights being afforded to the prisoner, and without telling Britain.
British Foreign Secretary David Milliband told the House of Commons yesterday that he had received a personal apology from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; the U.S. State Department said that Rice had expressed regret over the "administrative error." Former Liberal Democratic leader Sir Menzies Campbell called the disclosures "a gross embarrassment for the British government."
While admitting the two CIA flights, CIA director Michael Hayden denied reports that the CIA had been using Diego Garcia as one of its secret prisons. Human rights groups have said for years that they had indications that Diego Garcia was being used by the U.S. as a secret prison, and have cited a number of reports to this effect, including one concerning the Jemaah Islamiyah leader known as "Hambali."
It may be technically correct that the CIA was not using Diego Garcia as a secret prison, because it was actually being operated by the U.S. Defense Department. In late 2001, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reportedly authorized the creation of "hunter-killer squads" composed of military special forces operatives to capture or kill important terrorists. However, the Bush-Cheney Administration has only admitted to "CIA" secret prisons and renditions, whereas this is likely to divert attention from the larger military program.
Military Officers Have Low Confidence in National Leadership
Feb. 21 (EIRNS)A survey of 3,400 military officers from the rank of major to retired flag officer, in all four branches of the military, found that these officers see a military apparatus that is severely strained by the grinding demands of war, and is weaker than it was five years ago, before the invasion of Iraq. While they were split on whether the Iraq War has "broken" the military, nearly 90% believe that the demands of the war have "stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin." The survey, released earlier this week, was a joint effort by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for a New American Security. Other findings include the following:
* 80% of the officers agree that it is unreasonable to expect the military to take on another war, such as against Iran.
* Their confidence in the national leadership is low. One a scale of 1-10, President Bush rated only a 5.5, the Defense Department 5.6, and Congress only 2.7.
* When asked about the statement, "Torture is never acceptable," 53% agreed and 44% disagreed.
* Most had a low opinion of the major decisions made at the outset of the Iraq War, agreeing that there were not enough troops for the invasion, and rated the decision to disband the Iraqi army at 3.1 out of 10.
* When it comes to overcoming recruitment problems caused by the war, the solution supported by 78% was to expand options for foreigners legally in the U.S. to serve, in exchange for citizenship. Reinstating the draft received 38% support, and giving waivers for past criminal or drug convictions received only 7% support.
NATO Preparing To Confront Russia Over Energy Supplies
Feb. 20 (EIRNS)One element of the move towards fascist integration in Europe, is its regimentation to do battle with the Russian "energy monopoly." There has been a lot of work put into reviving the various alternative energy schemes, especially in the area of gas, by State Department officials, in particular, the Nabucco project.
In a speech to the Hudson Institute today, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Kurt Volcker also called for NATO to "protect" European countries from any threatened cutoff by Russia. He said that NATO is not going to be involved in developing alternative energy sources or in the day-to-day running of the energy industry. But if there were a catastrophic interruption of energy supplies to a NATO member, that would be a security issue. "That is a strategic issue that NATO needs to think about. While NATO may not have all the tools in its toolbox, others do have those tools."
Volcker was quick to say that none of this should be presented as being "anti-Russian." but rather as "pro-free market." "What we want is to see is that energy supply takes place in a market context where it can be balanced by competition and balanced by alternatives. It is the centralization of control and politicization of control that can be a risk and what a diversified market can help mitigate. I think that is the way to think of it, not as an anti-Russia approach, but rather a pro-competition, pro-transparency, pro-diversity one, that creates a healthy economic environment," Volcker said.
Why Hillary Clinton Supports a Robust Space Program
Feb. 20 (EIRNS)In an interview with the Houston Chronicle published on Feb. 15, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stated that she had "an ambitious space agenda." Clinton has called for advancements in both unmanned space science programs, and the next generation of manned spacecraft, for a robust human spaceflight program, which NASA is now developing.
During a ceremony in the White House in 1999, honoring astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman commander of a Space Shuttle mission, President Bill Clinton related that when a teenager, Hillary had written a letter to NASA, asking to be considered as an astronaut. But NASA was not accepting any women for the job at the time. Growing up during the 1960s, Hillary Rodham was enthusiastic about President Kennedy's Apollo program, as were many young people her age, many of whom went on to study science, and work in the space program.
Barack Obama, when asked about his program for space last month, stated that the development of NASA's new manned spacecraft, Orion, should be put off for five years, and that money used instead for education. Had someone on his staff studied the data, they would have found that the greatest number of scientists and engineers were created in this country during the 1960s Apollo program to land a man on the Moon.